Stephen Farrow Trial

The trial has begun of a man charged with murdering a vicar at his home in South Gloucestershire.

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Farrow guilty of murder: full report

A homeless drifter who hated the church has been found guilty of the murder of a vicar from Thornbury. Stephen Farrow was told that he can expect to die in prison. He killed the Reverend John Suddards and retired teacher Betty Yates from Worcestershire.

Afterwards, Mr Suddards' family expressed concern that Farrow wasn't being monitored closely enough, given his history of violence and psychopathic tendencies.

Daisy Gray reports:


Judge says Farrow was a sadist

The Judge, Mr Justice Field, said Farrow should spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The Revered told you he would die and you repeated '***ing die then, hurry up and die'.You watched him die as life seeped out of him in the next three minutes.You then ransacked and placed a number of highly personal items around him. I am quite sure you did that to humiliate the Reverend and desecrate his memory.

I am quite sure you realised you would humiliate his family and the parishioners and congregation of the church. In each of these dreadful horrific killings you acted sadistically to put a knife deep into the body of Betty Yates as she lay helpless on the floor.

You then arranged her head on the pillow, which was an act of obvious sadism. You did that because you wanted to, she was not threatening you.In my view there is no question in this case of the imposition of a minimum term.

– Mr Justice Field, Judge


Bishops offer support

The Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Michael Perham and the Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Rt Revd John Went, issued a joint statement after the conviction and sentencing of Stephen farrow.

As a Diocese we are pleased that the trial of Stephen Farrow is over and a sentence has been reached.Recent months have been an immensely hard and painful time, both for John Suddards’ family and also the parishes of Thornbury and Oldbury-on-Severn where John had been vicar for such a short time, but had already come to be much loved.

– Joint Bishops' statement

The end of the trial and the sentencing means family and parishes can now move on, though of course still with a great sense of loss.As a Diocese we shall continue to provide ongoing support for those who have been through this immensely painful time and hold them in our prayers.

– Joint Bishops' statement

Farrow guilty of double murder

Stephen Farrow Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

A homeless drifter was convicted today of the brutal murders of a Thornbury vicar and a retired teacher in their homes.

Stephen Farrow, 48, was found guilty of killing the Rev John Suddards, 59, and Betty Yates, 77, by a jury at Bristol Crown Court.

Farrow, who was diagnosed as a psychopath, denied the murders of Mr Suddards and Mrs Yates.

But Farrow, of no fixed abode, admitted the clergyman's manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, and a separate burglary.

Farrow had an obsession with religion - claiming he had been sexually abused at boarding school by a priest - and wanted to murder the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The murder of Mr Suddards at his vicarage in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, was the culmination of a two-month reign of terror in which Farrow killed Mrs Yates and threatened to kill "Christian scum".

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